"Not knowing which exact career path to pick or which summer internship to apply for is okay"Florence Brockman

“With the start of the new year I’ve been thinking a lot about the future recently, and it’s left me feeling overwhelmed. Everyone seems to have made plans for the summer and for life after university and I’m worried about being left behind. How can I feel more prepared and in control?”

You’ve probably heard this before, but I’ll tell you again anyway ... it’s very normal to feel overwhelmed and uncertain about your future. It goes without saying that being a student at Cambridge sits hand-in-hand with constant deadlines and busyness; it’s common that you might not have had much time to think too deeply about what your next steps might be. On the flip side, there will be many people who do have something figured out, and we love that for them ... but I’ll get to that later.

For now, I’d like to point out that not knowing which exact career path to pick or which summer internship to apply for is okay. Rather than ignoring it altogether, being a little nervous but actively thinking about what you’d like to do after university is a favourable attitude to have! You’re in a position to be proactive: to start working towards what it is that you might want to do.

“It’s important not to compare yourself to those around you”

Whichever stage you’re at, it’ll always be too easy to compare yourself to others. Our university is filled with high achievers, many of whom have their short- and long-term goals pretty much figured out. I want to remind you that it’s important not to compare yourself to those around you. Although it may seem like everyone knows exactly what they’d like to do, it’s useful to remember that you probably just haven’t seen the moments where they too have felt overwhelmed by the future.

Realistically, we can’t always have everything planned out, and we (some more than others) certainly feel the weight of the inevitable question: "what next?" Therefore, I’d like to reassure you that you aren’t isolated in your worries about the future. No two people are the same, and everyone is paving their own path to their future goals. It’s important to figure this out at your own pace, and if you haven’t quite got there yet then that is very much okay.

“Everyone is paving their own path to their future goals”

There are tasks you can fit into your weekly routine that’ll help you to start planning future endeavours. I recommend creating a small list of the aspects you’re particularly worried or unsure about. By writing this all out, you can then set yourself some tasks which might help you work out what to do next. This might involve talking to a friend, or peers at your faculty. I’ve always found it helpful to share my thoughts with people; they often have knowledge and suggestions on useful areas that I might not have been aware of before! Remember that you can always reach out to college or faculty staff for guidance as well.


Mountain View

AskVulture: How do I balance all of my commitments?

You could try allocating regular one- or two-hour time slots to give yourself a dedicated space to research internship programmes/jobs/whatever it is that you might want to learn more about. Sticking to a routine like this will help provide some structure to your plans and hopefully allow you to feel like you’ve got a better grip on the direction in which you might be headed!

Although I’ve been advising you on how you can try to feel more in control, the most important thing that you can take away from all of this is that you certainly don’t need to have every next step and future activity planned out. I know it’s rather scary not knowing what happens next, but I can tell you that not over-planning means that you’ve allowed yourself the chance to be spontaneous, and the flexibility to change your mind! If you set aside some time to think about and explore what you might like to do, then I can assure you that you’ll start to feel prepared very soon! Best of luck!

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